Title: The Child of Their Hearts
Author: Mitch
Rating: PG
Pairing: Arthur Weasley/Harry Potter
Warnings: Just the usual: there be spanking ahead!
Disclaimer: It all belongs to the lovely J.K. Rowling. No copyright
infringement of any kind is intended. I am merely playing with her
characters. ;)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, U.S. edition, page 30.

"COME BACK IN HERE!" he Uncle Vernon bellowed. "COME BACK AND PUT HER RIGHT!"

But a reckless rage had come over Harry. He kicked his trunk open, pulled out his wand, and pointed it at Uncle Vernon.

"She deserved it," Harry said, breathing very fast. "She deserved what she got. You keep away from me."

He fumbled behind him for the latch on the door.

"I'm going," Harry said. "I've had enough."

And in the next moment, he was out in the dark, quiet street, heaving his heavy trunk behind him, Hedwig's cage under his arm. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, U.S. edition, page 30.

Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was sitting in his office when the shrill wail of an alarm sounding pierced the silence. In a swift movement quite contrary to his advanced age, he leapt from his chair and strode to the other side of his office. One of his many unique contraptions was emitting the high-pitched beeping that had disturbed the peace of his office, and the wizened Headmaster paled considerably. Harry Potter was no longer at his relatives' home.

This fact had barely registered when his fire flared green and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, came tumbling out of it.

"Albus, we've just received knowledge that an extraordinary amount of magic was performed at the residence of Harry Potter. Furthermore, the boy has run away!" The Minister seemed quite alarmed; his face was red and sweat was dotting his brow.

"Do you know what has happened, Cornelius?" Albus questioned. His clear blue eyes were not twinkling at all.

"We've had to send out the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad. Apparently, young Harry and his uncle's sister were involved in a verbal argument of some kind and Harry, well, for lack of a better term, blew up his aunt. Much like a balloon, actually."

"And you have no idea where Harry might have gone?"

The Minster shook his head, looking very grieved. "None, though I have a team of Aurors searching for evidence of his whereabouts."

"Very well, Cornelius. I will contact his friends to see if he might have, perhaps, gone to one of them."

The Minister nodded, and with a word of farewell, floo'd out.

Headmaster Dumbledore wasted no time. He grabbed a pinch of floo powder from the mantle and tossed it into the fire. "The Burrow!" he said firmly as the flames flared green, kneeling onto the floor and sticking his head into the fire.

Molly Weasley received quite a shock as she sat darning socks, reflecting on the fact that a mother's work was, indeed, never done, when her fireplace flared and the Headmaster of Hogwarts' face was suddenly staring at her.

"Headmaster Dumbledore!" she exclaimed in surprise, her hand flying to her heart.

"Molly," the Headmaster said briskly. "Has Harry been here?"

"Harry?" Mrs. Weasley asked, a puzzled expression coming to her face. "No, he hasn't. Is there something wrong, Headmaster?"

Dumbledore explained what had happened and Molly quickly promised him that she would immediately send word if Harry showed up at the Burrow, extracting a promise from the Headmaster that he would likewise inform them when the boy was found.

Her husband arrived home about fifteen minutes later, looking flustered. He immediately asked Molly if she'd heard anything from Harry.

"The Headmaster fire-called to ask the same thing. Oh, Arthur, I hope he's all right." Molly's face was troubled, her brows creased with worry.

"Me, too, Molly." Arthur hugged his wife, smoothing her hair. His expression darkened, "Though I certainly do hope, when he's found, that someone speaks to him about the danger he's put himself in!"

Molly seemed taken aback by her husband's sudden shift in attitude. Normally, she was the stern one and Arthur was the one, if not directly then indirectly, encouraging the children's mischief. Of course, there had been times where his temper had rivaled even her own.

Seeing the look on his wife's face, Arthur continued, "Even without Sirius Black on the loose, Molly, running off like that… he's thirteen years old. Anything could happen to him! Going off in a temper like that, it's no different than a toddler throwing a tantrum, I don't care what his provocation."

Shaking his head, Arthur withdrew from the embrace and headed off to find his children, directing them sternly to immediately inform him if Harry made any attempt to contact them. Around half an hour passed and Headmaster Dumbledore fire-called again to say that they'd discovered Harry had boarded the Knight Bus and was on course to Diagon Alley. The Minister was there waiting for him to arrive. Arthur donned his traveling cloak.

"Arthur, where are you…" Arthur interrupted his wife's question.

"I am going to the Leaky Cauldron to wait for Harry's imminent arrival. It is unlikely the Minister will have words with him, but someone certainly needs to." With those words, he apparated straight to the Leaky Cauldron and met with the Minister and Tom, the innkeeper. Tom told him that they'd be putting Harry up in room eleven, and was kind enough to unlock the door so Mr. Weasley could wait for him in the room.

When the Knight Bus dropped Harry off at the Leaky Cauldron's front entrance, the teenager was surprised and confused to see the actual Minister of Magic there to greet him. The Minister mildly scolded him about running off, and then told him that they'd taken care of Aunt Marge. Pity, that, he thought. Fudge then told him that he'd be spending the rest of his holidays at the Leaky Cauldron and that he was free to wander around Diagon Alley so long as he was in by dark each night and didn't go off into Muggle London.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, U.S. edition, page 47.

And with a last smile and shake of Harry's hand, Fudge left the room. Tom now moved forward, beaming at Harry.

"If you'll follow me, Mr. Potter," he said, "I've already taken your things up…."

Harry followed Tom up a handsome wooden staircase to a door with a brass number eleven on it, which Tom unlocked and opened for him.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, U.S. edition, page 47.

Harry looked around the room, curiously eyeing the polished oak furniture, the already-burning fire. He noticed that Hedwig was perched on the top of the wardrobe, and there, sitting on what looked to be quite a comfortable bed, was none other than Ron's dad, Arthur Weasley.

"Mr. Weasley?" Harry asked, quite puzzled as he walked into the room and shut the door behind him. "What are you doing here?"

Mr. Weasley ignored the question and stood, walking over to Harry. He placed his hands on Harry's shoulders and peered at him intensely, checking to make sure the boy was indeed in one piece.

"I am very glad to see you are all right, Harry," he said. His normally kind eyes darkened, and he fixed Harry with a very stern look. "Now, would you care to explain why you ran away, young man?"

Harry, for his part, was rather startled to hear such a severe tone coming from the normally jovial Mr. Weasley. Even when Ron and the twins had flown their dad's enchanted Ford Anglia to rescue him from the Dursley's last summer, Mr. Weasley hadn't seemed angry at all. Harry had rather thought he was amused, actually, the way he'd asked the boys how it had flown and all. He stared at his best friend's dad, not quite comprehending just what, exactly, was going on.

"I… what?" he spluttered.

Mr. Weasley reclaimed his seat on the bed. "I would like to know what, precisely, you thought you were doing when you left your aunt and uncle's home this evening," he repeated in an even tone. Mr. Weasley waited several moments. When it became clear that Harry wasn't going to respond, he said firmly, "That was not a request, Harry."

Harry shifted where he stood, crossing his arms and uncrossing them nervously, under Mr. Weasley's stern glare. "I couldn't stay there! You don't know what it's like there, Mr. Weasley! And you don't know what she was saying to me… about my mum and dad!" Harry burst out, becoming angry as he recalled the hateful things his uncle's sister had said to him. "She deserved what she got, and it's about time! She's had it coming to her, and I only wish I'd've stayed to watch her bounce against the ceiling, the evil cow!" By the time Harry finished, his face was flushed dark red and he was breath was coming in sharp gasps.

"Are you quite finished?" Mr. Weasley asked calmly. While Harry had been ranting and raving, Mr. Weasley had calmed himself down a bit and was feeling much better. Harry gave a jerky nod of his head. "Come talk to me, Harry," Mr. Weasley said, gesturing the empty spot of bed next to him. Harry, eyeing the man warily and trying to calm himself down, crossed the room and sat next to the man, who shifted so that he was facing the boy.

"Harry, I know your situation is not ideal," he cast Harry a firm Look when the boy gave an incredulous snort, "but you running off like you did is absolutely unacceptable!" Harry opened his mouth to interrupt, but Mr. Weasley cut him off, "No, Harry. I don't care what your provocation – you had no right to leave that house. You placed yourself in immense danger, Harry! I don't even want to think about what could have happened to you had the Knight Bus not picked you up."

Harry's anger had all but dissipated. Mr. Weasley's voice was filled with concern, anger, and disappointment – but his words… No one had ever cared before if Harry got in trouble. And Mr. Weasley was angry with him, but it was, apparently, more because of the fact that he'd endangered himself. But it was weird, being lectured by his best friend's dad!

"I didn't think about that, Mr. Weasley. I just – I couldn't stay there…" he said softly, picking at them hem of his oversized T-shirt.

"I know you're not going to like hearing this, but you are only thirteen, still a child. You don't have much of a choice." Mr. Weasley paused for a moment, giving a sigh. "Harry, you are my son's best friend. Mrs. Weasley and I consider you one of our own." He paused again. "If one of our children had done what you did this evening, running off in a temper like you did, he or she would be sleeping on their stomach tonight." He fixed the teen with a pointed look.

Harry's eyes widened. What was he saying? Surely he didn't mean… I guess it's a good thing I'm not a Weasley, Harry thought wryly.

"I know I'm not your father, Harry, but I feel that someone needs to impress upon you the seriousness of your actions. Today's event, the trouble you've rushed headlong into in the past two years you've been at Hogwarts… you have got to stop putting yourself into danger, Harry! There are people who care about you too much to see you hurt! And if none of them are willing to correct you when you make mistakes, to discipline you when it is necessary, then I will."

Harry realized then that Mr. Weasley actually meant to treat him like… well, a Weasley… and actually spank him. He stood and backed away a few feet, shaking his head, slightly panicked.

"Mr. Weasley, I get it, really… I won't…"

Mr. Weasley cut him off, shaking his head softly. "No, Harry. I'm sorry, but I will not be like other adults in your life and let you down. If you won't keep yourself safe, I'll have to ensure that the consequences you face when you place yourself in danger will be enough to remind you in future of just how valuable you are." He contemplated the desk in the corner, and the chair in front of it, but decided to remain where he was, seated on the bed. Though Harry had backed away, he was still within reach, and Mr. Weasley extended his arm and grabbed the boy lightly by the wrist, pulling him closer, though the boy tried to resist him. The father of seven, having had, if not as much experience as his wife in this area, plenty experience enough, easily drew the protesting teenager across his lap and shifted him into a proper position. He easily cast a charm that had Harry's trousers and pants around his knees, and the boy groaned in embarrassment. He'd been smacked before, by Uncle Vernon when he was a young child, and he recalled it as being a very unpleasant experience.

"Mr. Weasley, please – you don't have to do this…" Harry pleaded in a last ditch effort to change the man's mind.

"Yes, Harry; I do." Mr. Weasley replied, his voice holding an almost sad tone. He lifted his hand and brought it down firmly on the quivering, unprotected bottom before him. Harry yelped in surprise, and Mr. Weasley brought his hand down again, quickly peppering Harry's vulnerable bottom with harsh, stinging wallops.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! Harry squirmed, the sting rapidly building as more swats rained down on his backside. His face, he knew, was bright red from shame and embarrassment. To his horror, he could feel tears beginning to sting his eyes. Mr. Weasley landed a particularly harsh swat and Harry cried out.

"Owww! Mr. Weasley,.. Please!" He begged, trying to wriggle his way off of the man's lap. Mr. Weasley, ignoring the pleading words, only wrapped his left arm about Harry's waist and held him fast.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! "Why are you receiving this spanking, Harry?" Mr. Weasley asked. The spanking was about halfway over; Harry's bottom was blushing a dark pink and the boy was fighting back tears. His legs were kicking, and he was crying out with each smack now.

Is he mad? Harry thought wildly as he heard the question. How the hell can he expect me to ans-- "OWW!" Two sharp wallops to his thighs convinced him that Mr. Weasley did indeed expect an answer. "Be -Ouch! - Because I r-ran away. Owww, please s-sto-op!" Harry's voice broke on the last word, tears streaming from his eyes and staining his cheeks.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! "That's right. And why is that unacceptable?"

"D-d-dang--OUChhh! dangerous! I -OOWW! p-put myself in d-danger! OUCHhhh!!" Harry was sobbing at this point, tears flowing freely from his eyes. He became limp across Mr. Weasley's lap, sure the spanking would never end. His bottom was absolutely on fire; he'd never sit again, surely.

SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! SMACK! Mr. Weasley dropped his left leg and lifted his right, targeting his last set of smacks to Harry's tender undercurve and thighs, thereby ensuring the boy would have trouble sitting for a while. Harry wailed loudly with each swat, squeezing his eyes shut tight.

After delivering the last scorching swat, Mr. Weasley used his wand to right the boy's clothing and shifted him so he was sitting in his lap. He held Harry in a comforting embrace, alternately patting the child's back and running his fingers through the messy black hair.

"Shh, shh," he murmured as Harry fought to get his sobs under control. "It's okay now, Harry. All's forgiven." He continued to murmur softly to the teen until Harry's tears quieted. "I'm sorry that was necessary, son," he said in a gentle tone of voice, much more like his normal self than the stern paternal side he'd shown earlier. "One thing you should know about the Weasley family, Harry: once a transgression has been dealt with, the slate is wiped clean and all is forgiven; it won't be mentioned again."

Harry stared up at Mr. Weasley through wet eyelashes, his face red and tear-stained, mind locking on one word: son. No one had ever called him 'son' before. He felt his eyes filling with tears again and he clung tighter to Mr. Weasley, unable to say anything to the man. His heart was filled with a strange, new emotion. He thought he should be angry at the man for punishing him so harshly, but all he could focus on was the fact that no one else, no other adult in his life, had expressed such caring and concern for him before. Mr. Weasley, for his part, only held the boy closer, rubbing the boy's back until he pulled away.

"I'm really sorry, Mr. Weasley," Harry finally said, in a voice still thick with tears.

Mr. Weasley smiled, "I know you are, Harry, and I'm sure you'll think twice in future before allowing your temper to get the better of you, or rushing headlong into a dangerous situation."

Harry nodded vigorously. "Yes, sir!" he exclaimed.

The man smiled kindly, chuckling softly as the boy emitted a loud yawn. "Before I take my leave and allow you to get some rest, I want you to promise me that you'll be in by dark each night, and that you'll stick to Diagon Alley. No wandering into Muggle London, or anywhere else, understood?"

"Yes, sir," Harry said, yawning again. "I'll stay in Diagon Alley, and I promise I won't go out after dark."

"Good boy." Mr. Weasley allowed Harry to stand, following suit. He pulled the blankets back from the bed, turning his back to allow Harry to change into his pajamas. The teenager crawled into the bed and Mr. Weasley pulled the blankets around him, feeling a rush of paternal affection for this boy who was his youngest son's best friend and who had stolen his wife's heart. He gave Harry's back another pat. "We'll see you the last week of holidays, but if you need anything at all, just floo us at The Burrow."

His only reply was a sleepy grunt of acknowledgement. With a last, affectionate glance at the sleeping teenager, Mr. Weasley exited the room, making sure the lock clicked behind him. Mrs. Weasley was waiting for him when he apparated home.

"Molly, our family has grown once again," he said softly as he hugged his wife, lips lifted in a smile.